What is your role at TeachTown?
Here at TeachTown, I am a production artist at the LA studio who gets to dip a creative hand in lots of different projects. I love storyboarding and character designing the most.
Share with us a little bit about your background, what your studied in school, and how you ended up in Los Angeles as an artist.
I’m originally from a tiny town in Southern Illinois and grew up surrounded by corn and cows. I earned my Bachelors Degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Fine Art in 2004, a Masters of Science degree in Animal Science from Murray State University in 2008, and had 3 years of additional study in Character Animation at California Institute of the Arts.
When did you know that you had artistic talent?
I’ve always been drawing or building creations out of construction paper. I knew I must have had a knack for it because no one would ever play Pictionary with me. At the age of 7, I decided that I wanted to be an animator. I also thought of working on children’s books and textbook illustrations, so here at TeachTown I get to do it all!
Do you prefer working as a digital artist, or do you still like to draw free hand?
I actually like both, and each has its pro’s and con’s. I like to sketch things out first on paper by hand, and then develop and finish digitally. It sure makes cleaning up mess-up’s easier!
What is the most gratifying part of your job here at TeachTown?
I love hearing the stories of student’s reactions to the cartoons. It’s very encouraging to hear that the kids relate and even copy the actions I sketch into the storyboards. Just to know that I’m making a difference doing what I love is the best feeling I could ever have.
Is there anyone in particular that you are extra fond of here at TeachTown? Do tell.
Well, I have to appreciate Terry Thoren for giving me my first animation industry job and helping watch out for me when I first moved to LA. Without him, I could still be serving coffee to the socialites in Malibu. And, of course, I am quite fond of my fiancé Kevin McKenna in the main office. He not only fixes computers at work, I have a handyman at home too!
Okay, now that Kevin has been brought into the conversation, tell us about your upcoming wedding plans!
Kevin and I will be eloping on the Disney Wonder Cruise line on September 25, 2011. We’ll be cruising to the Mexican Riviera and feeding our Disney addiction at the same time! We’re almost finished preparing, so now it’s time for the nerves to kick in!
What would your colleagues at TeachTown be surprised to learn about you that they don’t know?
Ooooh…. Good one. Besides the fact that I was a ‘toddler in a tiara’, my strangest adventures run from being a cheerleader for the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, to being able to manually inseminate a cow in 2.07 seconds. You might say I have a lot of interests and my overactive mind is always finding new projects to immerse myself in. I guess one of my hidden interests is rearticulating skeletons and making art from bones. Morbid, huh?
If you could spend one day with an artist mentor (dead or alive), who would that be? And why this particular person?
Tough. I have to pick one? I always feel connected to Walt Disney, and I feel Mike Bruza and I both dream like Walt. Technically, my favorite artist at the moment is Chris Sanders. He also attended CalArts, and is responsible for Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch” and Dreamwork’s “How to Train Your Dragon” animated films. I adore his style and his amazing creativity for imaginary beasts.
What book are you reading currently?
I just finished reading the graphic novel, “The 14th Dalai Lama” by Tetsu Saiwai, and now I’m working on “The Everything Buddhism Book” by Arnie Kozak and “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. Next on the schedule is “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse.
What’s the craziest job you’ve ever had?
Wow . . . I’ve had a lot of these. While in high school, I scooped horse manure for a dollar a stall. I also have worked on a berry farm in Kentucky where we planted and crossbred berries and kept bees. I also spent a summer at home de-tasseling corn (it’s as boring as it sounds.)
Would you ever sky dive?
Heck yes! I have recurring dreams about flying, and vow to someday hang glide, so I am definitely interested in skydiving.
What is your most favorite flavor?
Are you partial to one of the TeachTown characters? Who?
Pepper (Ginger’s dog). I connect very deeply with animals, and seeing cute little Pepper with his tongue hanging out just makes me smile ear to ear!